North Texas Daily

Losing sleep could lead to complications

Losing sleep could lead to complications

February 07
18:17 2013

Melissa Wylie / Senior Staff Writer

A night of sufficient sleep may seem out of reach for many college students, but sacrificing hours of rest can lead to daytime difficulties.

Adam Bramoweth, postdoctoral psychology fellow at Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System, said the National Sleep Foundation suggests that adolescents get about 8-9 hours of sleep at night.

Bramoweth and Dr. Daniel Taylor, associate clinical health psychology professor, published results in 2010 from a study that showed college students at UNT averaged about 7.5 hours of sleep and most slept between 6.5-8.5 hours per night.

Bramoweth said sleep deprivation is often caused by a sleep disorder such as insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea or delayed sleep phase syndrome.

“It is important to recognize that not getting enough sleep is not just a normal part of college,” Bramoweth said. “If it takes you a long time to fall asleep or you wake up frequently at night, you may have insomnia and should see a doctor.”

UNT psychology professor Brandy Roane said sleep deprivation could also be known as sleep restriction.

“Restricting your sleep means that you reduce, not completely remove, the amount of sleep you get within the 24-hour period,” Roane said.

There are three different types of sleep deprivation, said Ali Wilkerson, clinical and behavioral health graduate student.

Short-term sleep deprivation is defined as when a person is awake for less than 45 hours while long-term sleep deprivation follows being awake for over 45 hours.

A new variety, called chronic partial sleep deprivation, occurs when an individual averages less than seven hours of sleep per night for several nights in a row, Wilkerson said.

Most commonly seen among college students is short-term and chronic partial sleep deprivation, due to tendencies to stay up late studying or socializing, Wilkerson said. Lack of sleep can have negative effects on a person’s mood, motor skills and cognitive function, Wilkerson said.

“The body wants to be on a set sleep schedule and when its not, you start to see it affect a person during the day,” Wilkerson said. “One night of sleep deprivation can result in the driving performance of someone who is intoxicated.”

Long-term sleep deprivation has been related to issues such as cardiovascular health and weight gain, Bramoweth said.

“Catching up on sleep on the weekends only sets you up for more problems during the week,” Bramoweth said. “Sleeping in late on Saturday and Sunday will only make it more difficult to get up early on Monday.”

Though sleep aids may be immediately helpful, the best treatment for sleep deprivation is to set a regular sleep schedule, Wilkerson said.

“Once you start sleeping in a healthy way, we see everything go back to a healthy homeostasis,” Wilkerson said.

Bramoweth also said keeping a regular schedule is the best way to get quality sleep.

“It is also important to leave time before bed to relax. It can be difficult to make the transition from work and study to falling asleep right away,” Bramoweth said. “Just like regular exercise and a healthy diet are important to your overall health, sleep should not be ignored.”

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